Meet Your Community: Leonie’s Passion for Rubbish Free Beaches

Meet your Community: Leonie’s Passion for Rubbish Free Beaches

I would love to introduce you to Leonie, who’s 67 years old and lives at Bateau Bay on the NSW Central Coast. I’m so excited that Leonie’s story is the first one to feature in this series, as I’ve known Leonie all my life. Literally…she’s my Mum! I’ve seen her various passions and enthusiasm grow through my time and her sustainable actions have played a huge part in influencing my own ideals and actions. People often describe her enthusiasm, passion and motivation as admirable. Leonie is passionate about keeping her local beach clean and free from rubbish. This is her story.

What inspired you to start keeping your local beach rubbish free? 

On Bateau Bay beach one day, my cousin pointed out a ball of tangled fishing line on the shore in seaweed and alerted me to the harmful effects on marine and bird life…and then you “see” more little bits – cigarette butts, bottle tops, broken glass etc and the obvious bottles, cans, wrappers. This beach is where my family and I have holidayed for over 60 years and where I now live. I wanted to look after and encourage others to respect and enjoy this coastal environment. I want this beautiful beach to be unspoiled. The increasing litter made me complain and feel annoyed, so I decided to channel my energy into picking up, binning and recycling

I feel that taking the rubbish collection bags with me to the beach have been a part of my life for about 20 years. This is when I actively started to pick up rubbish from my local beach.

As I pick up the rubbish, I have been thanked by passers by and told I am doing a good job on numerous occasions, which is nice.

I dedicate as much time as I have. Whenever I go down to “my” beach, I collect rubbish and lost property. When we are out and about we leave picnic and camping spots better than we found them, especially the little bits eg breadbag twists, butts, bottle tops. When I work as a supervisor with teenagers on their Duke of Edinburgh hikes, I teach and insist on a “ leave no trace policy”.

The skills needed for picking up other people’s rubbish is being able to walk, a keen eye to notice things that don’t belong, bending over and carrying.

There are a number of hazards. I come across broken glass, things that are grossly smelly, heavy things such as wheel rims & old gas bottles) and I can get germy, dirty hands. I should really use disposable gloves but don’t always carry them with me. Needles are also another big hazard, but I’m lucky that I haven’t seen any so far.

Anything and everything can be “left behind”. My most interesting pick up was a freshly severed deer’s head in a garbage bag! This was horrifyingly awful.

My absolute driving motivation is my passion for the environment for now and future generations. I have a theory – rubbish attracts rubbish. It sends out a message that we don’t care about our environment. I would like to turn that around so that it becomes the norm for people to either reduce their rubbish or to take their rubbish with them to put in the right bin.

Bateau Bay beach is a part of Wyrrabalong National Park, which is managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. I’ve become more involved in reforming the overall area through regular weed removal and involvement in the local Bushcare group. In addition to picking up the debris from the beach, this has extended to cleaning up the accumulation of roadside tracts of litter. But also notifying the local authorise so they can be more actionable in their response to the amount of rubbish people leave behind.

If you’re interested in maintaining a rubbish free environment, my best tip is to take a rubbish bag with you whenever you’re out walking.

I hope that Leonie’s story has given you inspiration to either actively reduce your amount of rubbish. Or to be the spark in your community to promote a cleaner environment.

About the Meet the Community Series

This is the first post in the Meet Your Community series.

The Meet Your Community series shares real stories about people like you who live a slow, simpler and more sustainable lifestyle in your local community. It’s a way of sharing the good stuff you do & love to inspire and motivate the everyday Australian. Meet Your Community is a collection of non-sponsored blogposts which focus on individual people and non-profit organisations who make a difference at a personal or local community level.

If you or someone you know is interested in being a part of this series, I’d love to hear from you.

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